Becoming Catholic

The Church is communio; she is God’s communing with men in Christ and hence the communing of men with one another.

~ Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ~

Becoming Catholic is one of life’s most profound and joyous experiences. Some are blessed enough to receive this great gift while they are infants, and, over time, they recognize the enormous grace that has been bestowed on them. Others enter the Catholic fold when they are older children or adults. This tract examines the joyful process by which one becomes a Catholic.

A person is brought into full communion with the Catholic Church through reception of the three sacraments of Christian initiation—baptism, confirmation, and the holy Eucharist—but the process by which one becomes a Catholic can take different forms.

A person who is baptized in the Catholic Church becomes a Catholic at that moment. One’s initiation is deepened by Confirmation and the Eucharist, but one becomes a Catholic at baptism. This is true for children who are baptized Catholic (and receive the other two sacraments later) and for adults who are Baptized, Confirmed, and receive the Eucharist at the same time.

Those who have been validly baptized outside the Church become Catholics by making a profession of the Catholic faith and being formally received into the Church. This is normally followed immediately by confirmation and the Eucharist.

Before a person is ready to be received into the Church, whether by baptism or by profession of faith, preparation is necessary. The amount and form of this preparation depends on the individual’s circumstance. The most basic division in the kind of preparation needed is between those who are unbaptized and those who have already become Christian through baptism in another church.

For children who have reached the age of reason (age seven), entrance into the Church is governed by the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC) or Rite of Christian Initiation for Teens (RCIT).

Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults

This 8-month or as-long-as-necessary program includes both Tuesday evening catechesis and Sunday morning liturgical participation and scripture study. The RCIA “inquirer” begins by completing the Risen Christ intake forms and attending Tuesday evening classes.

At the Rite of Acceptance, inquirers declare their intention to continue become “catechumens” (or “candidates” if they are already baptized). They are dismissed after the readings at Sunday Mass and a catechist will explain them.

Near the beginning of Lent, catechumens and candidates are “elected,” according to the will of God, with others in the archdiocese, to move toward reception of the Sacraments. They are sent to the archbishop for admission to the final period of preparation. This takes place at the Cathedral with catechumens and candidates signing the Book of the Elect.

The final period includes rituals known as Scrutinies and includes presentation of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. The Sacrament of Initiation is celebrated at the Easter Vigil after sunset on Holy Saturday. Baptism, for the unbaptized, Confirmation, and Eucharist are all celebrated.

After the Easter celebration, the process continues through the Easter Season with “mystagogy.” The “neophytes” continue to deepen their understanding of Catholicism and discover their particular mission within the Church community.

Learn More

From time to time it’s important to remind ourselves of the basic questions at the heart of our faith. Whether you’re a longtime Catholic or someone looking to learn more about the Catholic faith, we think you will find the quick videos below informative and inspiring.

Who Is Jesus?

What is the Catholic Church?

Questions about becoming Catholic?

Jason Cox

Staff Theologian